Conducting Urology Research During COVID-19: Social Media-Based Crowdsourcing of Urine Samples for Biomarker Development

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Urology



Conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic remains a challenge for the entire urologic community. We hereby report our effort to use social media-based crowdsourcing methodology to recruit participants from the entire UnitedStates, including Alaska and Hawaii. We developed a novel research model that can engage multiple stakeholders and allows for fast and broad participation for urine biomarker development towards a diagnostic tool for Interstitial Cystitis (IC).


We partnered with a patient advocacy group, the Interstitial Cystitis Association (ICA), to aid in recruitment efforts. A website with study information and links to the HIPAA-compliant enrollment questionnaire was created. The study was advertised though Google, and Beaumont’s and ICA’s social media using Twitter, emails,YouTube videos, Facebook posts, websites, and TikTok. Enrolled participants wereshipped at-home collection kits containing urine cups with preservative, a prepaid return mailing envelope, instructions, and survey materials.


National public participation was strong, and enrollment was closed within three months. Menand women of all age groups and ethnicities enrolled in the study, representing all 50 United States. Currently, 1,211 crowdsourced samples have been returned, including 677 asymptomatic control samples. Surprisingly, most participants accessed the website via mobile devices, as opposed to via desktop computer or tablet. Potential participants were referred to the website primarily by direct links (i.e. email links), with other referring sites being Facebook, Google Advertisements, the ICA’s website, and Beaumont Hospital’s website.


Following COVID-19 safety guidelines, we conducted a nationwide crowdsource collection of urine samples. Social media and web-based recruitment tools were used to recruit participants. Having a website user-friendly on mobile devices was essential. Nontraditional recruitment methods, such as TikTok videos, encouraged study participation. Utilizing various social media platforms, it is possible to crowdsource urine samples from across the United States quickly, economically, and most importantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, safely.




Suppl 5

First Page



American Urological Association Annual Meeting, May 13-16, 2022, New Orleans, LA.